U.S. Rep. Duncan outpaces Democratic foe in fundraising

Anderson Independent Mail by Kirk Brown

Fueled by an August fundraiser in Anderson that 1,100 people attended, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan more than doubled the amount of campaign cash that he has on hand during the last quarter.

Duncan received $105,620 in campaign contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to an Oct. 13 report submitted to the Federal Election Commission. He has $110,893 in campaign cash available, compared to $52,643 at the end of the last quarter.

"The report is just more affirmation that Congressman Duncan continues to receive tremendous support from the people of South Carolina," said Duncan's spokesman, Allen Klump, in an email.

A Republican from Laurens, Duncan is seeking a fifth term in a district that includes part of Greenville and all of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.

Duncan raised nearly six times more campaign cash in the last quarter than his Democratic challenger, Mary Geren of Anderson. Hosea Cleveland, a Democrat from Seneca who also is running against Duncan, had not filed a quarterly campaign finance report as of Thursday morning.

Geren received $17,885 in campaign contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to her latest federal disclosure. She has $8,103 in campaign cash on hand.

In the previous quarter, Geren collected more campaign contributions from individual donors than Duncan. But during the last three months, Duncan received $62,120 in contributions from individual donors, as well as $43,500 in contributions from political action committees.  Geren has not received any money from political action committees.

"When we launched this campaign, we knew we are up against a bought-and-paid-for politician," Geren said.

She claimed that most of Duncan's support is derived from wealthy donors and corporate political action committees. In contrast, Geren said, the bulk of her campaign cash has come from donations of $200 or less made by teachers, students, small business owners and others.

Geren also said that she knew Duncan would do well in the last quarter as a result of the Faith & Freedom barbecue fundraiser that he hosted at the Civic Center of Anderson on  Aug. 28.

The barbecue is touted as the largest annual gathering of South Carolina conservatives. At this year's event, Duncan talked about how a "God wink" protected him from a gunman who opened fire on a congressional GOP baseball team in June. Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa also spoke at the fundraiser.

Klump said he is unsure how much campaign money Duncan raised at the annual barbecue. Tickets to the event cost $35 for individuals and $60 for couples.

Duncan's latest campaign finance disclosure listed nearly $14,000 in catering, entertainment and security expenses related to the barbecue.

Geren's campaign spent slightly more money than it brought in during the last quarter, according to her campaign finance disclosure. The $9,631 that campaign manager Phil Dudley received accounted for more than half of the quarterly expenses. Dudley quit his job on Aug. 1 to run Geren's campaign.

Geren said she has had no second thoughts about hiring Dudley.

"I need him," she said.

Geren, who plans to hold a number of fundraising events before the end of the year, said the financial advantage that Duncan has amassed cannot be overlooked.

"It is a concern," she said. "But it is not all about money."